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RAM - Interview with Harry Granroth
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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RAM Swedish heavy metal band
Two years after the acclaimed "Svbversvm" the Swedish dark heavy metallers Ram are back with a new release, which is slightly different to their previous outputs, with half of it being a concept about a very cool guy called Ramrod the Destroyer. Other than that, the band continue in the same direction, playing their easily recognisable brand of traditional metal and not caring about trends in today's heavy music. Last autumn Ram embarked on a short UK tour to promote "Rod" and start building their fanbase on these shores and we decided to check out what the band's guitarist Harry had to say about their new release.
Your new album has been out for over a month now. Are you satisfied with the feedback so far?
Yeah, it has been well received by the audience and also got great reviews and it entered the German charts the week of the release so we can't really complain about that.
Most bands try to outdo themselves with every album. Would you say you've succeeded?
We don't think in those terms really, even if our mindset is to write the best music ever. Initially there is the song and at that point our aim is to write the best song possible. It is first after a while that you get an idea of what kind of album it'll be. Of course, you could scrap a few songs if they are not good enough but it has never happened in Ram that a song ever was finished if there was a feeling it is not good enough. We work on it until it feels right. In retrospect, a song can be less good compared to others but in the writing process when you are excited about the new material you don't think that way.
You've released two videos for the new album, a lyric video for "Gulag" and a proper clip for "On Wings of No Return". Would you say those two tunes are the best representation of the new material?
I'd say those are a good representation but there could have been other songs as well. It just happened a video was made for a certain song and another was chosen for a lyric video. We wanted to release different types of songs to showcase the album.
The album is split into two parts, with the second part being four songs tied into a concept about Ramrod the Destroyer. As it's the first time you've done something like that, please share with us the ideas behind this concept?
The story is about a future world where humanity has been totally pacified and obedient to the ruling power, The Overseer. To this world the Ram Rod arrives who cannot accept this strange dishonest world and a conflict arises. This story is very much about the individual vs. the collective which is a recurring theme in our lyrics.
As apart from the four "regular" songs you've created the afore-mentioned concept piece, was the song-writing process any different this time around?
In the early days we used to sit at my place to write music and we did that pretty much up to "Svbversvm". For "Rod" we had our song-writing sessions at our rehearsal room/recording studio. That is the main difference I would say. Also, the album was written quite fast.
When you founded the band back in the 1999 traditional metal was slowly starting to raise its ugly head again. But I don't think that was the reason why you decided to put Ram together?
I always wanted to play the music I grew up listening to but in the '90s there was not much of heavy metal going on here in Gothenburg. Mostly there were "aggressive crossover", Pantera-like metal, nu-metal, melodic death metal or black metal played by the bands around so, my option was to form my own. That was why it took a while to find all the members for it. Even after the release of our first EP in 2003 it was still hard to get gigs as metal was not quite strong yet. Abroad it was better as we did get some recognition in the metal underground.
You guys have managed to create an easily recognisable style. Maybe it's just me, but when I hear Ram, I know it's Ram. Were you consciously trying to do things a bit differently, or was it just a coincidence that the band sounded this way from the beginning?
Thank you very much, I'm very glad you say that. I believe it is a little bit of both, we definitely tried to do things differently from what many bands that tried to be "metal" did. We also really wanted to bring back the classic sound but not do it in a retro way.
The Swedish traditional metal scene is very strong these days with lots of new bands popping up here and there and releasing quality albums. Any idea why Sweden has become the new stronghold for old-school metal?
The only explanation I can think of is that it is fairly easy for the youth to find rehearsal spaces so they can form bands. Not sure why so many choose to play traditional metal but I guess that when metal grew strong again the young audience that picked up instruments choose to play what they like as well.
Do you have any underground festivals in Sweden, like the German events Keep It True or Headbangers Open Air?
We do, Muskelrock for instance, but Germany has the largest number of festivals, Sweden does not even come close.
A while ago you teamed up with Portrait and put out a split EP, playing each other's covers. Whose idea was that?
I believe Christian Lindell of Portrait came up with that idea. It's a pretty cool idea as I don't think it ever has been done before.
What's your view on incorporating non-metal genres like pop or rap etc. into metal music?
If you incorporate something non-metal into metal it only means you'll end up with something less metal which is a bad thing in my opinion. I don't really see the point. Call me purist or whatever but most of it is just tasteless I think. There was a band here in Gothenburg that seriously tried to make dance metal. I just don't get it. I believe there is enough to explore within the genre of metal.
How did your UK tour go? I saw you in Edinburgh and I was really impressed with the raw energy coming from the stage...
This was our first time in the UK and overall it was OK. I'm sure next time will be even better.
OK, what are your plans for the next few months?
I'd say gigs is what is next for Ram. We recently teamed up with Dragon Agency (booking) so now we focus on the upcoming tour. Hopefully this will open some new doors for us. Then we have a few summer festivals this year and after that we'll see if there will be more touring. As mentioned earlier, a return to the UK would be nice and maybe Spain again. Of course, we'll try to write new material in between but I believe 2018 will be our busiest year performing live.
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel
Photo by Julia Cronqvist

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Tags: Ram, heavy metal, Harry Granroth, Rod, NWoTHM
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© 1997-2020 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.